This morning I decided I needed to use those candlenuts that were so lovingly brought to me from Malaysia from a friend who "didn't know what they were used for, but was sure I'd figure it out." I don't know why candlenuts were specifically on my mind, but I do know I haven't cooked a real meal lately, since I'm either out wandering the world or invited to dinner during these lovely summer days. Lucky for me, the first result of my research was Roti n Rice, a blog that first intrigued me by its name but kept me reading for the fusion of cultures. Featured was Beef Rendang (or Rendang Daging), a dish often served for special occasions in Malaysia originating from Indonesia. What drew me to this dish is the blend of spices and different textures of coconut used to enhance it. There are several layers of pleasure going on here and it needs to be simmered for a long time, which means I could do all the preparations right then when I was feeling it in the morning, then let it simmer in the crockpit, freeing up the kitchen for any other desires that may apprear during the day.
And there is absolutley no way to describe the velvety aroma wafting through my home as the dish simmers to perfection.
2 lbs (750g) beef chuck, cubed
3 tbsp canola oil
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
2 stalks lemongrass (or 1 tbsp dry per stalk)
3/4 cup (180mL) coconut milk
1 Tbsp tamarind pulp
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup desiccated coconut, toasted and pounded in a mortar into kerisik (better to use fresh)
4 kaffir lime leaves, sliced
1 turmeric leaf (sub 1 bay leaf)
2 thai red chilies, seeded
10 dried red chilies, seeded, soaked, and drained (I only used 2)
2 inch galangal, sliced (I used dried that I soaked and drained)
2 inch fresh ginger, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup water
To dry grind:
3 candlenuts (or macadamia if you can't find these)
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1. Make the spice paste. In a spice grinder, grind the ingredients in the "To dry grind" section. In a food processor, blend the ingredients in the "To Blend" section, then stir in the ground spices. Set aside.
2. In a heavy based deep pan or wok, heat the canola oil and add the cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, and cloves.
3. Add the beef pieces and stir around to coat well.
4. At this point, transfer everything to a slow cooker with the coconut milk. Cook on low for about 7 hours. The meat should be tender.
For the stove top option, bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for at least 1 hour.
5. While this is happening, make the kerisik. Kerisik is a Malay term for toasted coconut that is pounded in a mortar with a pestle to release its essence. To do this, toast in a dry pan until colored.
6. At the end of the cooking time, add the kerisik, tamarind, sugar, salt, kaffir lime leaves, and turmeric leaves. I added some cilantro in the photo but that was before I figured out that an ok substitute for turmeric leaf is bay leaf.
Cover and let cook another hour or until ready to serve.
If doing this stovetop, simmer for another 30 minutes. The sauce should thicken and make an almost "dry" curry.
As it turns out, my special guest lives inside of me, sometimes talks to me, most of the time makes love to me in the kitchen between the tomatoes and fennel seeds..
This time, my day started out nicely, and ended with a home run...